What Sanders Means By ‘Democratic Socialism,’ Once and For All

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders invokes FDR in explaining socialism as ‘foundation of middle class’.

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said that economic security is essential to Americans achieving true freedom, a central tenet in his political philosophy of “democratic socialism.” “Real freedom must include economic security. Updated, 8:15 p.m. | Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont aggressively confronted voter concerns about his electability as president on Thursday, making a rare formal address to explain his left-wing ideology of democratic socialism and argue that its principles reflected mainstream American values like fairness and equality. A lot of voters call that unacceptable, so Thursday, he offered a passionate explanation of why he wears that label, saying he’s carrying on the legacy of Franklin D. It is my vision today,” Sanders said in a speech at Georgetown University Thursday. “It is a vision that we have not yet achieved and it is time that we did.” Sanders’ comments came during a defining speech about his views as he seeks to challenge front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s nomination. In signature style, Sanders argued it is not he who is the radical — that it is billionaires and their allies who are the threat to the fundamental American values of fairness and compassion.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who trails Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, faces deep skepticism over his political brand. Sanders hopes victories in Iowa and in the New Hampshire primary will help him undermine Clinton’s dominance and create momentum in a lengthy fight for delegates.

Roosevelt of our time, noting that the president who guided the nation out of the Depression and through most of World War II had an agenda not all that different from his. Clinton in recent days has offered a veiled critique of Sanders for his support of a single-payer health care system, which she says will require middle-class Americans to pay higher taxes.

Roosevelt’s push for Social Security, a minimum wage and the 40-hour workweek, Sanders said, were all attacked as “socialist” threats to the American way of life. “All of these programs and many more have become the fabric of our nation and, in fact, the foundation of the middle class,” he told an audience of students and faculty packed into an august hall where heads of state and dignitaries speak when on campus. “Today in America, we not only have massive wealth and income inequality, but a power structure built around that inequality which protects those that have the money.” The speech comes as Sanders is struggling to regain the momentum he built over the summer. Front-runner Hillary Clinton opened up a more than 20-point lead over Sanders a month ago in national polling averages, and the Vermonter has yet to narrow the gap — largely because many Democratic voters question whether he is electable.

And it builds on what Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1968 when he stated that ‘this country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.’” Sanders recalled the New Deal, which Roosevelt crafted to revive the nation’s economy and spirit during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It begins with the acknowledgment that unilateral military action should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that ill-conceived military decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilization over regions for decades,” he said before rattling off U.S.-backed coups throughout the world in the last half-century that had controversial long-term effects. “This type of regime change, this type of overthrowing governments we may not like, often does not work, often makes a difficult political situation even worse,” he said. His self-identifying for decades as a socialist is perceived as heavy baggage in a country where the term, when it does come up in politics, is usually in the form of an attack.

King’s call for social and economic justice, contrasting them to “socialist-communist” caricatures of his thinking put forward by Republicans to tar the Democratic field. “I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production,” Mr. Social Security, unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, strong financial institution regulations and other programs that put millions to work were all regarded as socialist in their time, Sanders said. Sanders also took aim at GOP candidates’ “appeals to nativism and prejudice” in the speech, singling out Donald Trump before arguing for immigration reform and letting Syrian refugees into the country. “The bottom line is that ISIS must be destroyed, but it cannot be defeated by the United States alone. In explaining his views, Sanders chose in Roosevelt an icon of the Democratic party and sought to connect his values with Democratic voters, presenting himself as a vessel for some of the late president’s unfinished business.

The speech cited Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” from his 1944 State of the Union address which asserted Americans should have the right to a job with a living wage, health care, education and economic protections for the elderly. Despite the Sanders campaign catching fire with liberal Democrats since June, a survey of New Hampshire voters released by WBUR a few weeks ago suggested mainstream voters had not changed their outlook. Half of them still said they would not vote for a socialist, though that total dropped to 40% when the voters were asked about voting for a “democratic socialist,” which is how Sanders describes himself. Poor and middle-class Americans, by contrast, struggle financially without meaningful government help and end up being arrested on minor drug offenses, Mr. Sanders said Roosevelt was responsible for much of the social safety net enjoyed by millions of Americans today, from Social Security, the federal minimum wage, unemployment insurance, the abolition of child labor, the 40 hour work week, collective bargaining and strong banking regulations.

In a debate last month, he assured nervous Democrats that Americans would embrace democratic socialism once he had a chance to fully explain it — as he went on to do in the Georgetown speech. Sanders described it as one of the most important yet overlooked addresses of the Roosevelt era. “People are not free … when they are unable to feed their family,” he said. “They are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity.

It means we should not be providing huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, or trade policies which boost corporate profits that result in workers’ losing their jobs.” Mr. It is transforming American society.” Sanders also addressed the recent attacks in Paris, urging the U.S. to lead a “new and strong coalition of Western powers, Muslim nations and countries like Russia” to fight the Islamic State in a coordinated way. He said that effort should include the sharing of counter-terror intelligence, stop terrorist financing and end the exporting of “extremist ideologies.”

Johnson and Pope Francis, all of whom he argued could also be labeled democratic socialists. “I don’t believe in some foreign ‘ism,’ but I believe deeply in American idealism,” Sanders said, a response to critics who accuse of him of trying to overlay an approach better suited to Denmark and Sweden on America’s political system. He expressed bewilderment that his embrace of free public education, universal healthcare and an economic system that does not concentrate so much wealth among so few would be perceived as radical. Many Democrats like the message more than the messenger, fearful that Republicans will tag him as a wild-eyed socialist — given his ideology and his calls for a “political evolution” — and crush him in the 2016 general election if he is the Democratic nominee. But I do believe the middle class and working class of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living, and their incomes should go up and not down.”

Sanders drew comparisons to some past presidential candidates who made speeches in critical moments, like Barack Obama’s remarks on race relations in 2008 — after inflammatory remarks by the Rev. Kennedy’s speech on Roman Catholicism in 1960. “It was a crisis moment in our campaign, and it was difficult because he needed to strongly separate himself from his pastor’s statements without separating himself from the pastor,” Mr. Sanders emphasized that while he opposed war, democratic socialism did not rule it out, and that he would go to all lengths to protect Americans from terrorists and enemy nations. “I am not a pacifist,” Mr. Sanders said twice during a question-and-answer session after the speech, noting that he supported the American-led invasion of Afghanistan and President Bill Clinton’s military strategy to end ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. “I think war should be the last resort, but we have the strongest military on earth, and we should be prepared to use it when necessary,” Mr. Sanders’s speech was wrapping himself in the mantle of the former president, though he could not predict whether it would ultimately be effective against Mrs.

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